Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday in photos

Gray skies, packed hours, late everything.

Well, breakfast is on time.

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Playful Snowdrop, happy girl, wanting a partner in crime from the minute we leave school. Or even before we leave.

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I take her to the library. It's been a long time since we've been here! I love the books, she loves everything.

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(Using every last muscle to pull over a crate...)

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(A library version of a holiday tree. She likes it!)

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At the farmette now: cheepers, we don't have any bread for you right now!  -- a line we deliver again and again as they run out to greet us.

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At the farmhouse, playing ball with ahah. She is good!

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And always there must be time for towers and for arranging all the Duplo children so that they too can eat baguettes and share water.

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I no longer notice the gray skies. Nor the drizzle nor the rush of time. Snowdrop plays, the tea kettle whistles, the day sings.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

november 29th? really?

Today, the march toward winter took a pause. I know we really did not go beyond 50F (10C), but with a steady outpouring of sunshine, it felt far warmer. So much so, that when Snowdrop came to the farmette, she spent a good many minutes like this:

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And with the cheepers, like this:

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Earlier, Ed and I eat breakfast in a bath of sunshine.

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On a day like this, you can only feel grateful. (If you're an Ed, you could feel grateful for all that's not wrong with the world... Too, you can feel grateful that you have a buddy who will help you arrange little characters on the Duplo tractor...

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... and who will reward you with a big grin when a piece of puzzle falls into place.)

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Before I even bring Snowdrop to the farmhouse from school, I ask her if she wants to take a walk to the playground. It's a bit of a stroll and I do know she is tired after a morning of play, but she is enthusiastic...

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... and I am feeling strong -- strong enough to carry her when inevitably, she'll stretch her arms and say -- I need help.

We pause at the coffee shop for old times sake (and to fortify her with a piece of croissant). Oh, but her eyes stray...

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What's she looking at? Well this:

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The whole time.

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We walk to the playground then and she is her old jubilant self on the swing...

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... and she climbs up the play structure, and the life guard chair, all that. But really, what she most loves about the playground is the sand, the rocks, perhaps the view onto the lesser lake.

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At home,  she naps, I enjoy the play of sunshine on my coffee cup...

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Of course, all that sunshine recedes rather early. But how pretty it looks, even as the day seems to rush toward dusk (and the twinkling lights twinkle to high heaven out on the porch)...

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Outside, it's dark. Inside, we bake cookies.

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And then some of us dance in celebration of the fact that the cookies are ready!

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A silly dance perhaps. But isn't it grand to have elements of silliness in one's day?

It's time to take Snowdrop home. On my way to the car with her, we sidetrack and watch ahah put the chickens away. They're a bit wild tonight and Snowdrop is taken aback by their fierce flapping and squawking. It's just the way they are, Snowdrop --- I tell her. It's just the way they are.

Monday, November 28, 2016

and then it's Monday all over again.

Despite everything, life always does aim to return to normal... Sometimes you wish it would, other times you wish it wouldn't, but it doesn't ask for your opinion: it pushes toward its own equilibrium.

We feel the tug toward normal today.

Breakfast. For sure.

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And of course, when it's time for me to pick up Snowdrop.

Funny thing about the girl: her report card thus far notes that she has only skipped one day of school this year and I must note that that day was when her parents took her to Chicago.

You would think, therefore, that the girl is never sick. Not so! But I suppose you could say that she is only really sick on weekends or vacations. She struggled over Thanksgiving and rebounded soon after and by Monday, today, she is happy as anything to be back in school.

And delighted to be at the farmette afterwards.

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Inside: top priority is building towers and making the Duplo children sit.

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Kindness calls for feeding Duplo baguettes to the the stuffie cat.

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The day, as nearly all days that she is here, ends with quiet play with ah-ah. Me, I am hugely frustrated as I try to purchase air tickets for a family trip next spring. I spend hours on this project. Hours! But Snowdrop and  Ed bring me down from high levels of exasperation. Life is better than being angry at a computer that's too slow or an agent who doesn't really know how to make things work smoothly for you.

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The regular repetition of tasks, days, and events is a good thing. For us it is more than that -- it's the essence of a grand life.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Do you see yourself as being an optimist in life? One of those glass half full people? Do you recognize promise where others see failure? If asked, would you say that yes, our children will fashion a world that's better than the one we leave behind for them?

Perhaps most people would say these are complicated issues and asking for clarity and predicting the future are both futile and naive enterprises. But I am not one of those people. I would have answered yes to all those questions.

Ed would have answered no.

Of course, I know this about him. On our very first date, now more than eleven years ago, I listened to him speak about our planet, the people who inhabit it, the rampant destruction, the disrespect toward life, toward nature -- and I thought: whoa, that's really harsh!

For the most part, we each know where the other stands on such issues and we leave this topic alone. No good will come of challenge here. We're committed to our positions. I know as sure as there is life that nearly everyone on earth plays by rules of hope and cooperation. This is my given.

Ed thinks differently.

He is a quiet guy and he seeks no confrontation and so this rarely comes up in our time together. But last night, after watching yet another set of horrific scenes on the news of people assaulting and destroying each other and destroying the ecosystem and destroying nearly everything worth preserving, he had to articulate (albeit ever so quietly) his frustration with the human race. It was like listening to Woody Allen have angst over the condition of the human soul except that for Ed, there is no angst. There's just the belief that the human soul is irreparably flawed.

Once he puts this on the table, I cannot ignore it. Yes, I know, I should ignore it, but you can't parade this stuff before me and hope to move on to topics such as how to fix the shower nozzle, or which cereal is best for breakfast after a weekend of big eating.

So this was our night and then again, our morning.

We do enjoy our breakfast...

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... but at other times, I have to retreat, surfacing only when he proposes a walk in the Arboretum with a naturalist as a guide.

I tell him I am in no mood -- that my existentialist core had been rattled, but he throws in some good bribes like a big cappuccino at a coffee shop afterwards, perhaps with a purchase of a bottle of some favorite wine for the evening and so I finally agree.

The extraordinary thing is that the Arboretum guide turns out to be the daughter of one of my very best friends...

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... and her partner and two children join in as well and this is actually so weirdly funny because here is Ed, proclaiming his most dismal vision of the human enterprise and then on this walk, proposed by him, we come to share it with this beautiful set of people, flaunting his theories even as he clings to them with all his might.

It is a very strange afternoon.

Some vignettes from our walk...

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In the evening, my daughter and her family come for dinner. Snowdrop is initially happy...

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... then a tiny bit discombobulated, but ultimately incredibly spirited and joyful, which, in my opinion only speaks to the triumph of the human spirit.

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It is a beautiful set of hours and I do not falter in my belief that life is incredibly fine, even if some cogs in the wheel are occasionally a bit splintered.

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As I've known from day one, Ed and I are far less apart on how a regular old day should proceed than on what it means to live as a human being on this beautiful planet. And though he is not likely to admit it, perhaps my optimism does rub  off in bits and pieces. You need only watch him join in on dinners with my daughters or hold on to Snowdrop as she pounds a hammer on a stake that will support holiday lights to know that this is so.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

one more day

One more day where my family can come together for a meal. One more day of light stories and chuckles over Snowdrop's antics.

Snowdrop, show us what you do in yoga! Show us a downdog!

She does.

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Then she says -- aunt do downdog!
Her aunt obliges.
I laugh -- your sucker aunt!
Snowdrop repeats earnestly -- my sucker aunt!

She may as well add "my sucker uncle," because she gets him to do yoga with her too!

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It is such a good day! All the best elements are present: a leisurely beginning, a morning of cooking up a spinach and mushroom frittata. With roasted tomatoes and strips of bacon. And bagels and cherries and berries and ... Thanksgiving leftovers. Stuffing. Cheesecake. Oh, anything!

But let's go back a little. To the arrival of Snowdrop and parents...

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I am so very happy to have everyone here once more. Snowdrop is so very happy too.

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We eat. Of course. We're one of those families that likes to be together over food.

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The youngest couple will soon be heading back home, but not just yet!

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No one is in a hurry and so we linger. Snowdrop seems to be finally licking her bug and she plays hard!

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... loving her games, her interactions...

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Every last minute.

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And of course, there has to be a last minute. The day moves forward and the younger couple has a drive to Chicago and the other couple has a day of work and Snowdrop care and so we all say our goodbyes, but with smiles at the recollection of this most beautiful weekend.

In the afternoon, Ed and I go for a walk. No grand plan here -- just a stroll in our county park. But oh, my, is the sky beautiful today!

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At the horizon: cranes. A huge flock of them!

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In the park, new paths to discover...

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Playgrounds, just for fun...

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And a new, unfinished bike bridge to navigate over the neck of Lake Waubesa.

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By the time we're done, the sun is about to disappear.

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The farmette silo stands tall and yet it is but a speck in the scheme of things.

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By the time we pull into the driveway, dusk has settled in.

But guess what -- tomorrow, at 7:05, I'll be letting the cheepers out again. The sun will have cracked the horizon... A wonderful thing, isn't it?